The National Rifle Association said it opposes a bipartisan bill that would mark the most significant gun control bill to pass Congress in three decades if approved.
A procedural vote on Tuesday garnered the support of more than a dozen Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The legislation came after weeks of discussions among 20 senators following last month’s school massacre in Uvalde, Texas.
The NRA said it would support measures to improve mental health and school security, but claims this legislation creates “unnecessary burdens” for gun owners.
“This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians,” the NRA said. “This bill leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials and also contains undefined and overbroad provisions – inviting interference with our constitutional freedoms.”
Many of the Republicans leading talks on a compromise bill with Democrats had A ratings with the NRA. According to the New York Times, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who led discussions on behalf of 10 Republicans willing to compromise, had an A+ rating with the NRA and $584,000 in campaign contributions from the group.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 GOP nominee for president, also has an A rating.
The legislation will include the following:
- Funds for states to implement red flag laws
- Family mental health spending
- Getting rid of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by including those convicted of domestic abuse in background checks
- Funding for school-based mental health programs
- Funding for school safety resources
- Clarifying the language of a federally licensed firearm dealer
- Investments in telehealth programs
- Implementing a waiting period on gun purchases for those under age 21
- Penalties for straw purchases of firearms
Cornyn spent the last week finalizing details on the bill. One concern he noted was on the boyfriend loophole and clarifying the language on domestic relationships.
Senate Majority Leader said he hopes to have a final vote on the legislation by the end of the week. The bill then would go to the House where only a simple majority is needed for passage.
While mental health has become a key component of gun control talks, mental health experts have advised the public not to associate mass shootings with mental health issues automatically.
"Attempts to connect mental illness to mass shootings are a distraction that inflicts enormous damage by taking attention from solutions that could actually prevent such events," a group of mental health organizations wrote. "This perpetuates a false narrative that encourages stigmatization of and discrimination against the millions of Americans living with mental health conditions who are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it."